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Lamont Declares Overdose Awareness Day Amid Expectation Of Increased Drug-Related Deaths

Mel Evans

Health experts expect 2020 will have more drug overdose deaths in Connecticut than last year.

Governor Ned Lamont declared an overdose awareness day in the state on Monday to coincide with a global effort to reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths.

Lamont said addiction is an illness that should be treated like any other public health emergency.

“I remember a couple of years ago when people were dropping from overdoses in New Haven," he said. "And today we have therapists there. We have counselors who are there just talking to people. Looking them in the eye and saying we can do better. And it’s not a law enforcement thing; it’s a healthcare emergency.”

State officials predict that by the end of this year drug overdose deaths in Connecticut would surpass the more than 1,200 recorded last year. They say the crisis is exacerbated by the isolation and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The deaths are at a higher rate than AIDS-related deaths at the peak of the HIV pandemic.

Some families of opioid overdose victims are demanding stiffer prison sentences for drug dealers.

Lisa Deane lost her son to a fentanyl overdose. She heads a group called Demand Zero. They want the state to adopt a zero tolerance policy on drug dealers.

“We all know those in recovery can be triggered into relapse. We need to give them a fighting chance so it’s impossible for them to find their next fix immediately, like it is now.”

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.